Robinhood vs Acorns

Compare Acorns versus Robinhood - which broker is better in 2021? IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, broker mutual fund rates, and differences.


Millennials might be attracted to Robinhood and Acorns for their modern styles of investing. But they’re very different types of brokers. Take a look at the following issues:


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Robinhood $0 na $0 per contract $0 na
Acorns na na na $1-$3 per month $1-$3 per month

Promotion Links

Acorns: Get $10 when you open an Acorns account with this referral link.

Robinhood: Get one free $2-$7 value stock when you open an account.

1st Category: Method of Investing

Acorns is a robo-only advisor that offers small round-up deposits from credit and debit card transactions. Say, for example, that you buy a cappuccino for $4.87. Acorns’ software program charges your card $5 and transfers $0.13 to your Acorns robo portfolio. Here, there are twelve (yes, just 12) ETFs that have different percentage allocations based on the account’s risk-return profile. It’s also possible to setup recurring deposits from an external bank account.

Acorns vs Robinhood

Robinhood offers no account management service, either in robo or traditional format. It does offer self-directed accounts, which aren’t available at Acorns. In addition to ETFs, Robinhood offers stocks, options, closed-end funds, and cryptocurrencies.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each broker’s investment method. We’ll call it a draw.

2nd Category: Retirement Planning

Neither broker-dealer in this contest offers traditional financial planning, which is strike one in this category. Acorns does offer Roth, traditional, and SEP IRAs. But it does so in a different way than conventional brokerage firms do it. Instead of offering customers a choice of account types, Acorns provides its customers with a questionnaire and then selects the retirement account type it believes is the most appropriate based on answers to the questionnaire.

Robinhood has mentioned the possibility of offering IRAs in the future, but has never got around to it.

Obviously, Acorns is the better option here.

Robinhood vs Acorns

3rd Category: Technology

Because both companies are modern firms, they emphasize mobile trading—or in the case of Acorns, mobile management. Its mobile app offers a PIN-based login. Apple devices have Touch ID. During our examination, we found a widget to connect an external account for periodic transfers (and the broker’s monthly fee). A second tool can be used to hook up a credit or debit card for round-up transfers.

Acorns’ website has the same features and design. A row at the top displays past, present, and potential tabs. The third tab displays the hypothetical growth of a starting balance to age 85 with recurring deposits and round ups. The past displays account history, and the present tab shows various account management tools.

Robinhood’s app doesn’t offer Touch ID, which is a serious blunder. It does have a PIN-based login, though. The platform has a lot of features that the Acorns app doesn’t have because Acorns doesn’t offer self-directed accounts.

On Robinhood’s app, for example, we found charting, an order ticket with multiple order types, and extended-hours trading capability. As with the Acorns app, there is no mobile check deposit tool, which we view as a critical failure. Neither app offers streaming video news, either.

Robinhood’s website is similar to its mobile app, although charting is more advanced. A graph can be displayed the full width of the monitor. Technical studies make an appearance, and we like the inclusion of (a few) display styles.

Which broker is better here depends on what type of trading you plan to do. On a technical level, they are even.

4th Category: Education & Research

The Acorns website and mobile app have the same list of learning materials. This is a collection of articles and videos that (1) describe how to invest at Acorns; and (2) present basic information on investing topics.

For example, we found a video on how the round-up system works and an article on the taxation of investments. There’s also a FAQ that answers some questions in the two categories.

Over at Robinhood, there is a similar lineup of materials. There’s a lengthier FAQ that answers more questions than Acorns does. There are also news articles on the day’s big financial topics. We found materials from Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. Robinhood has a basic stock and ETF screener. While it’s limited in what it can do, it’s more than Acorns offers.

We like Robinhood better in this category.

5th Category: Banking Tools

Besides linking other banks’ credit and debit cards, Acorns offers its own checking account with a Visa debit card. The account comes with an FDIC guarantee and nationwide ATM fee rebates.

Robinhood promised cash management tools in 2018, but failed to deliver. It has recently re-announced a debit MasterCard with a 2.05% APY, but there’s a waitlist. This causes us to pause and ask why is there still a waitlist over a year later? If Robinhood ever gets this thing off the ground, there is supposed to be FDIC insurance. No word on ATM rebates, however.

Acorns wins here.

6th Category: Other Services

DRIP service isn’t available at either broker. Because neither one offer mutual funds, automatic investing isn’t on tap, either. The one unique feature in this category where Robinhood excels is in crypto trading of 7 currencies, something that Acorns doesn’t have.

Robinhood wins by a nose.

Our Recommendations

Beginners: Acorns doesn’t have a lot of learning materials, nor are we overly impressed with its customer service. But it does try to make the investing process as easy as possible for newbies. So we suggest it over Robinhood.

Mutual Fund Traders: Neither broker can be suggested here.

Retirement Savers and Long-Term Investors: Have to go with Acorns.

ETF and Stock Trading: The easy choice is Robinhood.

Promotion Links

Acorns: Get $10 when you open an Acorns account with this referral link.

Robinhood: Get one free $2-$7 value stock when you open an account.

Robinhood vs Acorns - Outcome

Robinhood is the obvious choice for self-directed traders, while Acorns would be better for cash management and retirement building.